Department of Greek & Latin
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MA Ancient History Courses


Dr Riet van Bremen (UCL)
*40 credits
Meets: Friday 11-1
Core Course for Ancient Historians: teaching will consist of a weekly seminar on problems of theory and method of current importance to the study of ancient history; the seminar involves all teachers of ancient history in UCL and some from the rest of the University of London. There is also a very wide range of options available in fields such as: social anthropology, historiography, archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics, papyrology, and textual criticism that students will be encouraged to choose so as to help them in working on sources for their dissertations.
Assessment: will be by coursework.
Place: UCL

Prof. Hans van Wees (UCL)
*20 credits
Meets: Thursdays 2-4, term 2 only
In the long-running debate about the nature of the ancient economy, classical Athens occupies a special place as a relatively complex society with an economy that may have been more ‘modern’ than anything found in other Greek city-states. After an introduction to the theoretical problems and scholarship, the course investigates a series of key aspects of the Athenian economy in the period 450-300 BC, with particular reference to the most important bodies of source material, which each receive a class to themselves. On the basis of a close analysis of these sources and further study of specialist scholarship, the basic patterns of consumption, production, exchange and public finance will be assessed in terms of their scale, complexity and ‘modernity’, before we ultimately turn to the question of how exceptional the classical Athenian economy really was in its time.
Assessment: check with course tutor
Place: UCL

Dr Valentina Arena (UCL)
*40 credits
Meets: Wednesdays 11-1, term 2
This course aims to enable students to analyse the role played by political ideas in the Roman Republic and early Principate and to understand Rome's place within the study of intellectual history.
By the end of the course students should have acquired a good knowledge and understanding of 1) The role played by political ideas in the Roman Republic and early Principate within the context of Roman contacts with the Greek world in the south of Italy and the Greek mainland; 2) The place of Rome within the study of intellectual history; 3) The iconography and literary evidence for political ideas in Roman society.
Assessment: check with course tutor
Meets: UCL

Dr Riet van Bremen (UCL)
*40 credits (term 1 may be taken as a 20 credit module)
Meets: tbc
Prerequisite: a good knowledge of Ancient Greek (A-level or equivalent).
This course introduces students to a very important and exciting source of evidence for the history of the Hellenistic world (from Athens to Afghanistan), namely inscriptions on stone. Much of Hellenistic history, be it ‘high’ politics and diplomacy, economic history, the history of institutions, religious or cultural history, cannot be known or studied other than through inscriptions. As the annual volumes of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum abundantly show, this is one of the few branches of ancient history where source material does not remain static, but is constantly renewed. Every newly discovered inscription may bring the solution to a long-standing problem, reveal to us a previously unknown new cult, illuminate aspects of civic finance or of social organization. Certain areas of life (the world of athletics, of the gymnasium and Panhellenic festivals; religion, all kinds of financial transactions, royal diplomacy) are known largely through epigraphic documentation. Hellenistic epigrams and longer literary inscriptions provide points of reference for those interested in the literature and poetry of this period. Inscriptions offer essential information on prosopography and the study of names, and of topograhy.
Assessment: one exam at the end of term 1, and a critical historical study of an epigraphical document or a set of documents for term 2.
Place: UCL

Dr John Pearce (KCL), Prof. Boris Rankov (RHUL)
*40 credits
Meets: 2.00-4.00 pm
This is a dedicated MA course, designed to introduce students to both the practical study and the interpretation of Latin inscriptions of all types. The classes will survey the expanding resources available for the study of Latin inscriptions, including electronic resources as well as traditional printed corpora; the production of epigraphic material from the point of view of those commissioning it and the individual craftsman; the development and the decline of ‘epigraphic habit’; and the analysis and interpretation of the texts in the broader context of the artefacts, monuments or buildings to which they were attached. Students will learn how to measure and record inscriptions; how to read and interpret epigraphic texts; and how to edit and prepare epigraphic texts for publication. They will study and interpret a wide variety of examples different types of inscriptions: official, public, private and graffiti, from Rome, Italy and the provinces. It is intended to make use as much as possible of photographs and of epigraphic material in the collections of the British Museum, University College London, and the Museum of London.
Assessment: two epigraphic commentaries of c. 3,000 words (worth 60%) and one essay of c. 4,000 words (worth 40%).
Place: Senate House   

Dr Eleanor Robson (UCL)
*40 credits
Can also be taken in the following 20 credit options:
> The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires (Term 1)
> The Achaemenid and Seleucid Empires (Term 2)
Meets: Tuesdays 4-6
The module focuses on the period c. 800-c.100 BC, covering the Neo-Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Seleucid empires. The aim is to analyse shifts and continuities in political, social and intellectual life, by examining these states in their Near Eastern setting. Throughout the emphasis is on critical evaluation of a diverse corpus of evidence and assessment of relevant academic literature.
Assessment: four pieces of written work, totalling c. 10,000 words.
Place: UCL

Dr Irene Polinskaya (KCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
The module studies how the peoples of the ancient Greek world defined themselves in terms of their origin, in the senses of both birth and place. The purpose of the module is to investigate multiple layers of social content embedded in the term 'ancient Greeks'. Engaging with this broad concept, the students learn to expose and explore the patchwork of many civic and territorial identities that underlie the overarching concept of 'the Greeks': regional, ethnic, polis, tribal (also defined by affiliation to kin-groups), and demotic identities.  The module draws upon ancient Greek textual, epigraphic and archaeological evidence. Some proficiency in ancient Greek is desirable, but all readings are also available in English.
Assessment: will be by two essays of 3000-words (25% each) and one essay of 6000-words (50%).
Place: KCL

Dr Hugh Bowden (KCL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc
What can the mythology of the ancient Greeks tell us about ancient Greek social, cultural and religious organization, or about their understanding of the world? Can it tell us anything about humankind more generally? These questions have been asked by scholars in a range of disciplines from anthropology to psychology and beyond, and this module examines some of the answers they have come up with. The module does not offer a survey of Greek mythology itself, or focus on individual literary works as such, but concentrates on the ways that Greek myths have been interpreted from the nineteenth century onwards. This module is partner to 7AACM420 Greek Religion: Culture & Cognition, and it is recommended that the two modules be taken together.
Assessment: will be one 5,000 word essay.
Place: KCL

Dr Hugh Bowden (KCL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc
The study of religion has in recent years benefited from insights draw from cognitive anthropology, psychology and other disciplines, all of which make up the area of study referred to as the coginitive science of religion. These new approaches are beginning to be applied to the study of ancient religion, and this module aims to take up some of these ideas and see what light they may cast on the study of ancient Greek religious practices, in particular in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. The module does not offer an overview of Greek religion, and it is intended for students who already have some understanding of the nature of Greek religion. This module is partner to 7AACM420 Greek Religion: Myth & Meaning, and it is recommended that the two modules be taken together.
Assessment: will be one 5,000 word essay.
Place: KCL

Dr John Pearce (KCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
The module is a case study in Roman Imperialism and introduction to the material culture of the Roman empire. It covers the conquest of Britain, its transformation into a Roman province, later changes in its administration and defence, and the impact of incorporation into the Roman empire on the physical environment, religion, economy and society of Britain.  The module develops students' ability to understand and use archaeological evidence of all types, and Latin epigraphic sources, for historical reconstruction of processes of social and economic change; the problem of using concepts such as 'Romanisation' is constantly confronted.
Assessment: 3 essays of 4,000 words, each contributing equally to the total mark.
Place: KCL

Course tutor: Professors Roland Mayer & Dominic Rathbone (KCL)
+*40 credits
Meets: tbc
Prerequisites: For language-testing assessment: Advanced or Intermediate Latin at BA level. For assessment without testing language: Beginners Latin at BA level.
Through a close reading of Tacitus, Annals 13-16, the course combines historical study of the reign of Nero with literary study of Tacitus. Tacitus' language and style are analysed in the context of their creation of a particular portrait of Nero. Tacitus' presentation of the key episodes and issues in Nero's reign is examined and compared with other accounts and evidence to assess the historicity of the Tacitean image of Nero.
Assessment is by 3 elements, each contributing equally to the total mark. Students will have to write two essays, each of around 4,000 words, chosen from a set list. There will also be a two-hour unseen test at the end of the course containing passages in Latin for translation and comment in the language-testing version, and passages with translation for comment in the non-language-testing version.
Place: KCL

Professor Dominic Rathbone and Dr Micaela Langellotti
Meets: tbc
*40 credits
This dedicated MA course investigates the main themes and topics of current scholarly interest in the history of Egypt as a province of the Roman Empire (I - III AD) through in-depth study of selected groups of the written and material evidence. The course focuses on the papyrus documents, but also integrates the general archaeological record. The course does not test linguistic knowledge, but students will benefit from a basic grasp of ancient Greek and also background knowledge of the history of the Roman empire. The subject will be taught primarily through case-studies, and students will be responsible for background reading. At convenient intervals time will be allocated for discussion of problems arising from previous classes and for students’ presentations of work-in-hand. The outline list of topics is flexible and will, if practicable, be tailored to cover particular interests of the class. When possible guest lectures by experts on particular topics are added, and a visit to the rich Romano-Egyptian collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Assessment: two essays, each of not more than 6,000 words.
Place: KCL

Dr Lindsay Allen (KCL)
Meets: tbc
*40 credits
This M.A. module will provide an in-depth study of the influences shaping the multiple images and narrative traditions of Alexander the Great, as well as key phases of his reception and redefinition in later cultures. The popular history of Alexander in folklore, literature, art and film will be considered on an equal footing with the development of ancient and modern historiography. In addition, the course highlights his cultural significance in both the Western Christian and Eastern Arabic and Persian-speaking worlds and examines its implications. Discussion and coursework directions can follow ongoing themes, which bridge the weekly topics, such as Alexander and India, imperialist and kingship ideologies, ethnic and national appropriations and narratology.
Assessment: three essays of 4,000 words.
Place: KCL 

  • CL5305  Greek Law and Lawcourts

Prof. Lene Rubinstein (RHUL)
Meets: tbc
40 credits
Our main evidence for the Athenian democracy in the fourth century are the speeches composed for delivery in the Athenian popular courts. At the same time, the speeches also offer a unique insight into Athenian social relations and social values through the stories told by individual litigants to their audiences consisting of large number of ordinary citizens who were serving as judges. This course offers an opportunity to study the ways in which the lives of the inhabitants of late fifth and fourth century Athens – citizens, resident aliens, and slaves – were regulated by the city's laws, and equally important how this normative framework could manipulated and sometimes even subverted by members of the community. The course will also offer an introduction to classical Athenian rhetoric, and the seminars will focus on the rhetorical strategies adopted by Athenian litigants in a wide variety of contexts. A broad range of Athenian lawcourt speeches in translation will be complemented by the study of texts (also in translation) by Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes. Lectures will be shared with undergraduates; there will be a dedicated MA seminar each week.
Assessment: 3 essays of c. 3000 words each.
Place: Royal Holloway, Egham Campus

  • CL5314 Cities of Empire: Urbanism and Imperialism in the Roman Empire

Prof. Richard Alston (RHUL)
Meets: Thursdays 11.00am-1.00pm (term 1)
*20 credits
The course looks at the development of Roman urbanism within the Roman empire. It relates both changes in urban form and the spread of Classical urbanism to Roman imperial cultural, economic, and political structures. The course aims to question traditional approaches to Roman imperial urbanism, using in particular, contemporary theorisations of the city and employing a variety of different analytical perspectives. These include examination of ancient writings on urban communities (Philo on Alexandria), ideas of acculturation and cultural change in cities of the West, notions of political culture in cities of the East, issues of religious identity, and finally considerations of the sociological nature of the city. The period covered will be approximately AD 30 to AD 300 and will introduce students to the varied and changing nature of Roman urbanism, East and West.
Assessment: One essay of 4,000 - 5,000 words. Written commentary and oral feedback will be given on an essay draft.
Place: RHUL Bedford Square Annexe WC1E 6DP

  • CL5320 Cities of God: Making the Late Antique City

Prof. Richard Alston (RHUL)
Meets: Thursdays 11.00am-1.00pm (term 2)
*20 credits
The course examines the processes and impact of cultural change in Late Antiquity through an examination of Late Antique urbanism. The Late Antique city has been seen as the litmus of civilizational vitality and continuity in Late Antiquity. The course will examine the processes of Christianisation of the Late Antique urban communities, examining both the micro-level relationship between individual and community in the processes of conversion and the macro-level of changes in urban form and political structure associated with Late Antiquity. The city will be examined as a structuring structure that shapes economic, cultural and social forms in the Late Antique period across West and East. The course will consider continuities in urban form into Late Antiquity and transitions into Medieval urbanism, East and West. The course will consider a range of source material, including hagiography, documentary material (epigraphy and papyrology), epistolography, historical narratives, and archaeological material to provide an insight into the varied materials available for the history of the Late Antique city and the different methodologies required to consider this material.
Assessment: One essay of c. 5000 words. Written commentary and oral feedback will be given to an essay draft.
Place: RHUL Bedford Square Annexe WC1E 6DP

Page last modified on 30 jul 13 13:22